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Mahyco Monsanto Biotech disappointed with patent judgment

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited has said that it is very \ndisappointed with the Delhi High Court order that turned down Monsanto \nIndia’s patent on Bt cotton technology. It said it will study the order \nand take a call on appealing against it in the Supreme Court.

By KV Kurmanath,

The Delhi High Court judgement on Monsanto’s Bt technology patent has\n ruffled feathers in one section of the cottonseed industry, while seed \nproducers say their stand is vindicated.

The Federation of Seed \nIndustry of India (FSII) — the newly-formed organisation representing \nresearch based seed firms — felt that the judgement has far reaching \nimplications even beyond the seed and agri bio-tech sector.

The \nNational Seeds Association of India (NSAI), which represents the bulk of\n the cottonseed producers, welcomed the order. It said the order \n“balances the interest of every stakeholder”.

“This ruling has \nmade it clear that Monsanto enjoys Intellectual Property Rights only \nunder Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act. \nThey can make claim for benefit share under this Act before the \nstatutory PPVFR Authority,” NSAI Chairman M Prabhakara Rao said.

Appropriate trait value

The\n NSAI argued that developers of genetically modified traits could ask \nfor appropriate trait value fixation based on the agronomic value \nconferred by such traits.

They can secure reasonable returns on their investments.

The High Court on April 11, 2018 dismissed Monsanto’s plea to enforce patent for its Bt cottonseeds.

It\n allowed the counter claims of three Indian seed companies, including \nNuziveedu Seeds, and assigned the right to fix the trait value with the \ngovernment.

Investments to be hit

“If the patent \nprotection granted to a biotech trait under the Patent Act is superseded\n , why will organisations invest in inventing new traits,” Ram \nKoundinya, Founder-Member, FSII argued.

“We need to recognise that\n significant research investments are already made by several \norganisations in agri biotech. This judgement will severely restrict \ntheir ability to license their technologies and will hamper further \ninvestments in this sector,” he said.

He argued that several seed companies have already scaled down their research efforts due to the prevailing confusion.

MMBL ‘disappointed’

The\n judgement turned down Monsanto’s plea to enforce its patent on Bt tech \nand that pricing of trait value was its prerogative as it is giving \nvalue to the farmer. Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited, a joint \nventure through which Monsanto distributes technology to seed companies,\n said that it’s “very disappointed”.

It said it will study the order and take a call on appealing to the Supreme Court.

“Over\n the years MMB has conducted its business in adherence with all \napplicable laws in the country and all our patents were granted after \ndue review under these laws,” an MMBL spokesperson said, reacting to the\n judgement.

“Over the years MMB has conducted its business in adherence with all applicable laws of India and all our patents were granted after due review under these laws. India has been issuing patents on manmade biotech products for more than 15 years as is done widely across the globe,” an MMBL spokesperson said, reacting on the Wednesday judgment.

The landmark judgment ended a prolonged row between the US agri-biotech major and seed companies in India over the issue of the patent over the plant material. The court also said that the seed companies will pay the trait value as ascertained by the Government.

“A proven combination of certainty and predictability in the business environment encourages innovation in agriculture and best serves the interests of India’s farmers. Today’s order will have wide-ranging, negative implications for biotech-based innovation across many sectors within India,” the spokesperson felt.

“This is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished. We await a copy of the order and upon review will go for an appeal in the Supreme Court,” he said.